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Frequently asked questions to a Dentist York

Why would my dentist recommend I see an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dental specialist concerned with preventing or correcting irregularities of teeth. An orthodontic problem is called a malocclusion, meaning "bad bite."

Children and adults can both benefit from orthodontics. Your dentist will check how your child’s teeth are developing at each routine examination and decide if a referral to an orthodontist is required.

Treatment may take a little longer for adults. Because an adult's facial bones are no longer growing, certain corrections may not be accomplished with braces alone. The average treatment time is about 24 months and varies with individual patients.

At what age can people have orthodontic treatment?

The average age for orthodontic treatment is 12-14 years, however this may vary depending on various factors the orthodontist would consider before starting treatment. As mentioned earlier, adults can have orthodontic treatment but it will often take longer.

What causes orthodontic problems?

Some examples of causes of malocclusion are crowded teeth, extra teeth, missing teeth or jaws that are out of alignment. Most malocclusions are inherited, although some can be acquired. Acquired malocclusions can be caused by accidents, early or late loss of baby teeth, or sucking of the thumb or fingers for a prolonged period of time.

How are orthodontic problems corrected?

First, pre-treatment records are made. These records are important tools for the dentist to use in making an accurate diagnosis. They include medical/dental history, clinical examination; plaster study models of the teeth, photos of the face and teeth and x-rays of the mouth and head. This information will be used to decide on the best treatment.

A custom treatment plan is outlined for each patient. The specific treatment appliance best suited to correct the patient's orthodontic problem is constructed. There are a variety of different orthodontic appliances that may be used.

When the orthodontic appliances are in place, this is considered the "active treatment" phase. Appliances are adjusted periodically so that the teeth are moved correctly and efficiently. The time required for orthodontic treatment varies from person to person. An important factor in how long a patient wears braces is how well the patient cooperates during treatment, for example by following instructions to wear rubber bands or head gear.

After active treatment is completed, the "retention" phase begins. A patient will need to wear a retainer so that the teeth stay in their new positions. For severe orthodontic problems, surgery may be recommended.

Are there less noticeable dental braces?

Today's braces are generally less noticeable than those of the past. Brackets, the part of the braces that hold the wires, are bonded (glued reversibly) to the front of the teeth. These brackets can be metal, clear, or tooth-coloured. Wires that are used for dental braces today are also less noticeable. In some cases, brackets may be put on the back of the teeth (lingual appliances). Modern wires are also less noticeable than their predecessors. Today's wires are made of ‘space age’ materials that exert a steady, gentle pressure on the teeth, making the tooth-moving process faster and more comfortable for patients.

You orthodontist will usually be able to show you pictures or models of all the things they may use, so don't be afraid to ask.

How long will orthodontic treatment take?

Although the average treatment time is about 24 months, this varies with individual patients with adults as mentioned before taking longer. Other factors depend on the severity of the problem, the health of the teeth, gums and supporting bone and how closely the patient follows instructions. While orthodontic treatment requires a time commitment, most people feel the benefits are well worth the time invested.

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